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Truth and Method (Continuum Impacts) Paperback – 15 Oct 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum; New Ed edition (15 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082647697X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826476975
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 3.4 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 379,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) was Professor of Philosophy at the Universities of Leipzig and Heidelberg. One of the foremost philosophers of the last century, he developed a groundbreaking philosophical hermeneutics.

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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By J.S Hukka on 10 Mar 2002
Format: Paperback
Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method is a result of sixty years of reflection on the nature of the hermeneutic experience and an exemplary document of lucid and fascinating scholarship. The purpose of the treatise on understanding is 'what takes place above our thinking and doing', in other words, the constitutive events in art, literature and ethics.
As Gadamer's examination of the romantic human sciences, or Geisteswissenschaften, is constantly referred back onto the tradition and the sources from which it emerges and supports itself, some background knowledge is required, particularly of classical philosophy, Hegel and Heidegger.
The project of Truth and Method opens by engaging the reader to a critique of Kantian aesthetic exposition, and uses it as a starting-point for an examination of hermeneutics, the art of understanding. In the course of the examination Gadamer does not, however, engage in a dialogue only with the philosophical tradition, but by continuously exploring the universality of the hermeneutic experience demonstrates its relevance and presence in history, study of languages, legal theory and theology.
For a reader coming from the analytic-linguistic tradition, the final section on the hermeneutic character of language should be of particular interest. In it Gadamer outlines his conception of language as the horizon through which the experience of the world is understood. But as throughout the book, the horizon of understanding is not determined solely on the basis of the grammatical or the logical structure present; indeed, the horizon itself is a constant possibility for the historically effected consciousness to gain further self-knowledge through its experience in language as a historically and temporally defined phenomenon.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By law geek on 30 July 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up a copy of Gadamer's Truth and Method after having a discussion with a PhD student about their thesis. I am a third year undergrad, and decided to read what Gadamer had said about law, along with the interpretation of theology. From this I have been able to gain a unquie insight to legal interpretation when compared to my peers. Furthermore as an up and coming academic it has helped me to put into prespective H.L.A Hart's "The Concept of Law."
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 17 reviews
112 of 116 people found the following review helpful
Gadamer's Hermeneutic Masterpiece 28 Feb 2002
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorite books of all time. It is Gadamer's masterpiece - published when he was sixty years old, and the result of a life time of scholarship. T&M is a critique of romantic hermeneutics -a doctrine that holds that the meaning of a text is identical with the intention of its author. On this account, the purpose of interpretation is to reconstruct the author's intention, the experience they had while writing it that is held in the text. To this Gadamer contrasts his own theory of historically effected consciousness. Gadamer claims that 'understanding a text' involves understanding the tradition of which it (and you) are a part. In the course of doing so, Heidegger ranges over the history of aesthetic theory, phenomenology, and hermenutics, biblical interpretation, as well as examining the nature of all human understanding.
Gadamer is a student of Heidegger. In this book he is interested in demonstrating the way a Heideggerian account of consciousness (and being in the world) can help us make sense of the act of interpretation. He is also interested in demonstrating that one can use Heidegger without being a Nazi or obsessed with anxiety and being-towards-death.
This book is highly technical, the prose if difficult, and demanding (it helps to have read Being and Time, Kant's Critique of Judgement, some Augustine and Aquinas, etc etc etc.). For people who can get into the work, however, it promises a comprehensive theory of human being, the history of philosophy (and indeed, western thought as a whole) and a holistic worldview of unmatched death and detail. And that's no small potatoes.
For those interested in in reading Gadamer but not ready to tackle T&M, I recommend some of the shorter volumes of his speeches and writings. One of these, _Philosophical Hermeneutics_, is (relatively) accessible and generally considered by Gadamerphiles to be 'Truth and Method Lite'.
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Klassisch! 2 Aug 2003
By david - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
First, Truth and Method is a true classic. Basically, it sees Gadamer revitalise 'nonscientific' truth, i.e. the experience of truth inaccessible to method and irreducible to bare statement. The book itself does have a structure/setting that makes it difficult to get into initially (it is usefully read in tandem with a good commentary eg. Joel Weinsheimer's 'Gadamer's Hermeneutics'), but it is simply worth the effort.
Second, the review below is mistaken when it attributes to Gadamer the idea that the Old Testament should be read literally. Gadamer refers to Luther's position that "the Scripture has a univocal sense that can be derived from the text", but he does this as part of an historical overview of hermeneutics and, on the very next page, Luther gets refuted by 18thC historicism. Gadamer moves beyond both these positions to reveal how 'literalism' (and - more pressingly - 'historicism') is a projection of unproductive prejudices. It is an "obstruction", that gets in the way of the truth Gadamer seeks. Also, while T&M is relevant to theology, it should be made clear that Gadamer is writing of a philosophical-universal hermeneutics and not something regional.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
A ludic, yet challenging, introduction to hermeneutics 10 Mar 2002
By J.S Hukka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method is a result of sixty years of reflection on the nature of the hermeneutic experience and an exemplary document of lucid and fascinating scholarship. The purpose of the treatise on understanding is `what takes place above our thinking and doing', in other words, the constitutive events in art, literature and ethics.
As Gadamer's examination of the romantic human sciences, or Geisteswissenschaften, is constantly referred back onto the tradition and the sources from which it emerges and supports itself, some background knowledge is required, particularly of classical philosophy, Hegel and Heidegger.
The project of Truth and Method opens by engaging the reader to a critique of Kantian aesthetic exposition, and uses it as a starting-point for an examination of hermeneutics, the art of understanding. In the course of the examination Gadamer does not, however, engage in a dialogue only with the philosophical tradition, but by continuously exploring the universality of the hermeneutic experience demonstrates its relevance and presence in history, study of languages, legal theory and theology.
For a reader coming from the analytic-linguistic tradition, the final section on the hermeneutic character of language should be of particular interest. In it Gadamer outlines his conception of language as the horizon through which the experience of the world is understood. But as throughout the book, the horizon of understanding is not determined solely on the basis of the grammatical or the logical structure present; indeed, the horizon itself is a constant possibility for the historically effected consciousness to gain further self-knowledge through its experience in language as a historically and temporally defined phenomenon.
The style of the book is thoroughly lively and engaging; despite the abstract subject-matter the argument is never lost from sight and Gadamer's sense of clarity in terms of expression makes the book a pleasure to read and come back to.

I recommend this book whole-heartedly, not as a conclusive and total life-philosophy, but as an exploration and fascination of the possibilities of human potential in its recurring activity of living and perpetuating, its own culture, tradition and being.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A mighty work on interpretation 1 Jan 2007
By Steven A. Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method must be considered alongside the great works of Dilthey, Husserl, and Heidegger as a major treatise on hermeneutics, defined by Gadamer as understanding and the correct interpretation of what has been understood. More commonly, people define hermeneutics as the study/theory of interpretation.

Two major contentions that help frame his analysis are: (1) rejection of the view that proper understanding calls for eliminating the influence of the interpreter's context; (2) rejection of the view that the author's intent in writing a text has any special weight to it.

As to the first point, he argues that it is simply not possible for the interpreter to escape his present situation. He advances the concept of the "horizon." For Gadamer, the horizon is ". . .the range of vision that includes everything that can be seen from a particular vantage point." It is the grounding of the interpreter, including that person's language, that fixes the possibilities of what that person can see and understand. In Gadamer's words, it is

". . .the way in which thought is tied to its finite determination, and the nature of the law of the expansion of the range of vision. A person who has no horizon is a man who does not see far enough and hence over values what is nearest to him. Contrariwise, to have an horizon means not to be limited to what is nearest, but to be able to see beyond it. A person who has an horizon knows the relative significance of everything within this horizon, as near or far, great or small."

To interpret the words of the past, Gadamer says that:

"Just as in a conversation, when we have discovered the standpoint and horizon of the other person, his ideas become intelligible, without our necessarily having to agree with him, the person who thinks historically comes to understand the meaning of what has been handed down, without necessarily agreeing with it, or seeing himself in it."

In interpreting texts, two horizons are involved--one is the horizon of the interpreter and the other the particular historical horizon into which he or she places him or herself in trying to understand the text. Thus, the two horizons interact to produce understanding.

The historical horizon of the text is not fixed; it cannot take on a meaning that is unchanged for all times and places. Here, he gets to the heart of successful hermeneutic inquiry--the fusing of horizons. He says:

"Hence the horizon of the present cannot be formed with the past. There is no more an isolated horizon of the present than there are historical horizons. Understanding, rather, is always the fusion of these horizons which we imagine to exist by themselves. . .Every encounter with tradition that takes place within historical consciousness involves the experience of the tension between the text and the present."

But what of the intention of the original author of a text? That leads to another of Gadamer's major points, by now clearly implicit in his idea of fusion of horizons. In short, it is not particularly important in trying to interpret a text. Once a text is created by its author, it becomes, so to speak, freed from the creator and begins to take on its own meaning, based upon its historical horizon, continually evolving as circumstances change. It is the text's horizon that interacts with the interpreter's horizon.

So what? To the extent that "reality" is the subject of inquiry, our understanding of "reality" will change as the historical horizon of a particular claim about reality changes. We can, then, never come to a satisfactory conclusion about a transcendental reality, about an absolute truth. Is relativism the end product of the endeavor? The hermeneutist in the Gadamerian tradition would simply note that there is no way out.

This is one of the most historically important works available on interpretation. It is difficult and challenging as a work; however, the effort to learn from Gadamer is well worth it.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic Book, Terrible Printing 29 Feb 2012
By Seth Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have given the actual book 5 stars because it is a seminal work in the field of hermeneutics; I don't believe that a book should be given a poor rating based on its printing rather than its actual content. However, the printing of this edition of the book is so poor that I wanted to issue a brief warning to those considering purchasing it. Briefly, my beef with this printing is as follows:

1. The text is incredibly small and compressed.
2. There is almost no margin space for anyone wishing to underline or make comments in their copy--granted this is a seemingly trivial complaint, but considering that this book is technical enough that most of its readers are professionals or students and not casual readers and will likely be wanting to annotate their versions, this is a pretty large oversight on Continuum's part.
3. Most importantly/worst of all, the body of the text's placement on each page is incredibly inconsistent; often the words on a page will be typeset so far to the right (we're talking 1mm, at most, between the glue in the binding and the end of each line) that one is almost forced to break the binding of the book to be able to read each line. This problem alone is enough to make this printing unreadable for all but the most tolerant of readers. It should be said that I've seen several copies of this edition and each one suffered from this problem; the printing is simply low-quality.

My suggestion, for those who wish to read this incredibly important and insightful work, is to get an older printing. I recommend the second revised Continuum edition (white cover, ISBN 0-8264-0585-1). This edition is infinitely more readable and suffers from none of the problems listed above, and the text itself it isn't fundamentally different than the newer printing.
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